I woke up this morning, and much like many others for the most of the past few months, I was confused and it took me a second to realize where I was.
What’s it like being home in the USA? I get asked a lot.
I was perusing through my old photos on Instagram today.
A year ago, there were lots of “What I Wore” outfit posts. Selfies. Los Angeles city-living.
Then months later, they changed. I left for this life-altering trip. First stop, Bali: Beaches, Quotes. More reflection. A lot less me. A month later, even more mindful revelations, incredible scenery. Nepal: the Himalayas, the discovery of meditation, yoga, people. The documentation of the connections I’ve shared with these people, the ones that changed my world in every way. India: more yoga, more people. Little details, moments, memories. The seemingly mundane captured with new eyes and a new heart, as if magic. The past five months-worth of photos is something I am smiling as I look through. Something I’m proud of. The most transformative moments of my life. Something I truly wish everyone could experience.
Photos of my newly dyed blonde hair (sorry Mom, I know you’re reading this – don’t show Dad yet). Me and my sisters. My outfit for a night out on the town. Me and my friend after getting drinks at a bar. A picture of my food. Another selfie.
Uhhh…who is this girl now?
I look at the photos since my return and I feel guilty.
Am I falling back into this old life? One that is far too centered on me, on materialistic things? On things that I’ve learned – by way of the realest of experiences – don’t really matter?
Below are a few words I chose to share regarding some of these feelings I’ve had upon returning home with my friends on Facebook the other day:
I’ve been going through photos of my travels to finally post/share via social media. I’ve also been watching our traveling web series videos, from our time with permaculture communities in Bali, to orphanages and sound healers in Nepal, to yoga in India. And what I keep thinking is how the HELL, after all the amazing people I’ve met and things I’ve seen, could I now give two shits about a certain-celebrity-I-refuse-to-name’s platinum hair or who her little sister is dating? How could I give a shit about this celebrity’s response to this claim or that rumor, or who made the list of Top 5 Richest Music Artists? Many people have asked what it’s like to be home. Honestly, it’s been mainly just a whole lot of wondering how we live the way we live. All these bullshit headlines are seriously frustrating me more now than they ever have before. I just went on an unsubscribing rampage across all these Facebook pages that used to be my go-to fashion trends/news sources for years because I seriously just can’t do it anymore. I just wonder why we eat this shit up. Why this is the shit we talk about at work on dreaded Monday mornings. I wonder why we put ourselves in the position to dread Monday mornings. For what? I wonder how our system works the way it does. How we all manage to stay so ignorant and choose to be so blind (and I don’t mean EVERYONE, I just mean as a general public). And now I’m sort of just trying to figure out how and where I fit. How to live a life I’m proud of, here, in this environment. One that is so blatantly money-driven and at times, ego-driven. How to continue to serve others while pursuing my passions and being true to me. How to stay awake. It’s all a balance and I’m trying to figure out now how to best maintain that.
For the most part, the response to this sharing of my personal feelings was positive and supportive. I am so blessed to be surrounded by people who have really encouraged me along the highs and lows of this journey. And even for some friends to go as far and express the fact that they are proud of me means more than anything.
One friend, who also has had a lot of experience traveling outside the U.S., said he could relate to my feelings. He even expressed his frustrations for being chastised for having my exact feelings. And what followed? Friends chastising me for the exact same thing. My parents, even, in a sense. “You’re taking it too far,” they said. “You might be offending people.” Or the ever-annoying list of “easy-fix” solutions to this non-issue I seem to be experiencing: “Why don’t you just delete your social media accounts?”
First of all, not all grasped my main point or fully agreed with my perspective, and that is completely fine. But it seems to me that many had overlooked the simple, yet powerful little pronoun that I carefully chose to utilize. And that is “we.”
I am no better than you. I am not more spiritual than you. I am not a better person who cares about more important things than you. I am someone who has done a lot of good things in the past five months, for sure. Things I am absolutely proud of. Things I hope to carry with me forever as a reminder, as a challenge, of how to continue forth with my life.
But I am also someone who is completely and wholly aware of the other side of herself – the things that her ego yearns for that maybe she isn’t necessarily so proud of. Things that money can bring. Meaningless, materialistic things. I think I can be just as insane and ridiculous as I believe anyone else to be in this country. I am ignorant, I am sure, to a lot of things going on in this world (and knowing it and recognizing it is the first step to changing it). I am not immune.
I am not holier than thou, nor would I ever try to act like I am. I am human, I am flawed. I can admit it. I am a work in progress. And I am just trying to figure out what the hell I want to do with my life and what it means to me, just like you are.
I want to continue to keep people in mind. To be good to others. I want to serve a greater purpose. I don’t want to care anymore about Hollywood. It was my job before, literally. It was my 9 – 5 office job to give a shit. And I personally don’t want to do it anymore. Does it mean I never gave a shit? Obviously not. Does that mean that I now poo-poo anyone who does work in that industry? Absolutely not. In fact, I still have the utmost respect for my former colleagues and those I got the chance to work with, many of which are still friends. All I’m saying is that it isn’t for me, not any more. And that’s fine, and not something anyone should take offense to.
I love fashion. And I enjoy getting dressed up. Did I once shop way too much and find way too much joy in doing so? Did I let it get out of control at one point in my life? Yeah, maybe. Did I realize it and change my life? Yeah, I did. Am I scared I’m going to get sucked back into that life now that I’m home? Once I start making money? Once I get back into the grind? Absolutely.
And I recognize that there are certain ways that the larger industry overlaps with certain things I hope not to get lost in. But in general, my interest in fashion is a healthy passion of mine, and have no intentions on suppressing it.
I dyed my hair blonde because I think it looks badass and I wanted to look badass. Is that materialistic? Is that narcissistic? Is it a form of self-expression? Think what you will.
My point is, I’m trying to figure out me. Where I fit. What I think is right, what I think is not so right. I’m not telling anyone else who lives a different life that they should live mine. I’m not telling anyone else how to live, period. I’m too busy trying to figure out me, and let me tell you, it has not been an easy thing. But the older I get, the deeper I go within, the more rewarding I find it all to be.
All of this – my photos, my words, my commentary – is me thinking (and writing) out loud. I’m just sharing with you what’s going on in this bubble of mine. And the journey I’ve taken outside of it.
I’m still figuring it out, and I’m likely to change my mind along the way. I’m OK with that. I’m taking a hard look at what I want to hold on to and what I want to let go of. And I am challenging myself to keep myself in check along the way. I am not blaming my surroundings or environment for anything, I’m challenging myself to be the person I want to be despite it. Whether it’s the slums of Jayanagar or Hollywood Hills.
And now I’m thinking again about something a very dear friend told me while in India: “As an Aquarius, whenever we fail or feel lethargic or discontinue a pattern that we enjoyed or was healthy, we tend to freeze up. And beat ourselves up. It’s a negative quality in us. Change it.”